Exeter City Women’s nine match winning run came to an end on Sunday, as Maidenhead United left Devon with all three points, the Grecians first defeat since the middle of September.
City started brightly, Phoebe Baker driving towards goal before playing a weighted pass for Connie Pengelly to test the handling of Magpies’ keeper Gemma Harvey. Sadly, it was to be Baker’s last involvement, the influential midfielder leaving the field shortly after with a muscle injury.
Pengelly was to go close again moments later, a low delivery from Emily Toogood was met by the City forward, but her close range effort was blocked by the on rushing Harvey. Sarah Stacey’s attempt to round the United keeper was then thwarted, as City were looking to create space in a packed midfield and provide that golden chance to take the lead. Mollie Taylor headed over from a corner, before Pengelly again went close, creating room for a shot with clever footwork, before seeing it blocked by a well regimented visiting defence.
The Grecians headed into the break with no goals to show for their efforts and the frustration of not playing with the fluidity so often seen over the past few months.
Sarah Stacey had the first opportunity of the second half, once again a chance on goal seeing the ball run away from a City attacker and Harvey quickly off her line to intercept. Zoe Watkins’ mazy run into the box was stopped before a shooting opportunity, with Stacey striking over the bar from close range in the next phase of play. It was City’s best spell, and the pressure was starting to mount on a deep lying Maidenhead defence. Connie Pengelly again went close, her driving run at the United backline seeing a high shot that was once again held by the impeccable Harvey.
Football being football, a dominant spell by the home side can only mean one thing, a goal for the away side. City were caught in possession, and when Simone O’Brien struck from wide on the Grecians’ left, the ball sailed over Bond and in off the far post.
The response was quick, Connie Pengelly delivering another excellent set piece, but Sarah Stacey’s effort bounced off the top of the cross bar and over, as City were looking for a piece of good fortune to go with their dominance on the ball. Maidenhead were close to sealing the game, a free kick from their right side was hit narrowly wide by the on rushing attacker, before Emily Toogood again tested Harvey with a near post drive that the keeper palmed to safety.
The final chance of a frustrating afternoon epitomised the way the game had gone. A Pengelly corner was cleared to the edge of the penalty area, before being met by a fierce strike from Steph Beck, her effort hit the upright and the close range follow up from Mollie Taylor was over the crossbar. One of those days.
A fantastic nine game run comes to an end, but City will now look to bounce back with an all important Devon County Cup Semi Final against Feniton on Sunday. Not the way Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s team would have wanted to start 2022, but it is not a loss that is fatal to the team’s chances of achieving all that they want to in the coming months.